Childhood Habits That Turned Out To Be Unhealthy

October 3, 2017  |  
1 of 15 mother and daughter baking together

When you were a kid, you saw whatever your parents said as the end all, be all. Whether it came to science, religion, politics or nutrition, you thought your parents knew everything. But really, your parents only knew as much as they could access through books, the news, and their parents and teachers. And, in case you haven’t noticed, people can be wrong. Even doctors and scientists have to apologize every few years for some enormous “truth” they published, that turned out to be at least incorrect and sometimes even dangerous. If you look back, you may realize some of the things your parents told you were good for you were actually pretty bad for you. Here are childhood things we all thought were healthy, that turned out to be unhealthy.

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Drinking a glass of milk

Remember when you’d have a full glass of milk with each meal? You treated milk like water. Of course, back then people didn’t realize how prevalent lactose intolerance is. Nor did we consider the fact that milk is a pretty calorie-heavy thing to consume when you just want a little hydration.






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Fruit with lunch

Fruit used to be a side dish with your lunch. You’d have a turkey sandwich, chips, and apple slices. Or you’d have chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes, and stewed orange slices. But it turns out the best time to eat fruit is before having your two major meals of the day. Doing so allows the fruit’s fibers to slow the absorption of sugar from other foods better.


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Breakfast cereal

The first thing your parents used to do in the morning was pour you a giant bowl of cereal. They may have known that things like Fruit Loops and Cocoa Puffs weren’t good for you, but they could have still been serving you things like corn flakes (which offer almost no nutrition), Special K (also nutrient deficient) or granola (which can be loaded with sugar).





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Vegetables as punishment

If you still struggle to enjoy vegetables as an adult it could be because your parents used vegetables as punishment when you were young. Perhaps you weren’t allowed to get up from the table until you finished your vegetables, or you weren’t allowed to have dessert until you ate your vegetables. Either way, you were conditioned to see vegetables as a bad thing you had to tolerate rather than a good thing.



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Finishing everything on your plate

Your parents may have also insisted you finish everything on your plate. Many kids aren’t allowed to get to know their own bodies and appetites. Instead, for fear of underfeeding them, their parents force them to overeat, even if they are full. This could throw off a person’s ability to gauge their fullness after a meal, and that can transfer over into adulthood. Today you know that if you were to finish everything on your plate at most restaurants, you’d be consuming far too many calories.

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Afternoon snacks

In school, you’d have lunch at 12 or 1, and then you’d have a snack around 3 when you got home from school. You probably also had snack time between breakfast and lunch. Snacking can be a part of a healthy diet, but you didn’t have healthy snacks. You had pretzels, chips and chemical-loaded string cheese. Your snacks were just empty calories.





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Junk food days /cheat days

Maybe as a way to limit your junk food intake, your parents designated one day a week or month when you were allowed to have junk food. On that particular day, you could have McDonald’s for breakfast and Taco Bell for lunch if you wanted. But now you know that keeping a healthy diet is about balance and that these “cheat days” really aren’t good for you. They cause you to overindulge on cheat days, or to develop binge-eating problems.


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Using sweets as rewards

Remember when you’d get to eat candy if you finished your dessert? Or you got ice cream after a good game of soccer? You were taught that sweets were rewards. Of course, today, if you have a little sweet tooth, you indulge it. You don’t want to get into the mindset of thinking you have to “earn” sweets because that is verging on disordered eating.

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Having sports drinks instead of soda

Your mom used to pat you on the back for choosing sports drinks over soda. With all that talk of electrolytes and vitamins, sports drinks seemed like a healthy choice. Today you know that sports drinks have just as much (if not more) sugar as soda, not to mention all that bad food dye.

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Exercising soon after lunch

You barely had a chance to digest your lunch when you’d have to head to sports practice as a child. Can you imagine, today, playing soccer for two hours on the heels of a big meal? Considering that health experts recommend waiting two to three hours after a meal to exercise, you’d never do that today.





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Drinkable yogurts were once praised as a very healthy snack. You had yogurt cups in which you dipped animal-shaped cookies, and drinkable yogurt in little tube-shaped packages. But it wasn’t healthy Greek or plain yogurt. It was full of sprinkles or sweetened jam and fruit. The sugar far outweighed the calcium and protein.





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Fruit roll-ups

Fruit roll-ups, fruit snacks, and anything chewy and sweet with the word “fruit” in it seemed healthy. Today you realize that was just glorified candy, with little strawberry seeds added to make it look healthy.




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All of the pre-packaged lunches were loaded with chemicals you wouldn’t feed your child today. But at the time, your parents believed they were balanced meals because they had a little serving of meat, crackers, and cheese. Or should we say “Meat,” “Crackers,” and “Cheese” because that was barely food.






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Sleeping in on the weekends

You’d sleep well into the afternoon as a child. And you needed your rest! But it was also probably part of the reason you couldn’t sleep well the rest of the week. As an adult, you try to maintain a regular sleep schedule so you can fall asleep during the week.


Going to school at 7:30 am

Sleep experts have shown that kids could benefit from starting school just a tiny bit later in the mornings. Fortunately, many schools are starting to catch on. Wouldn’t it have been nice if this research were out when you were a child, waking up at 6 am for 7:30 school?


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